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José Ragas

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., History, University of California, Davis
  • B.A., History, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru



Professor Ragas investigates the emergence of the global biometric system in post-colonial societies and the current implementation of ID cards as a mechanism designed to grant citizenship and curb the legacy of gender, age, and racial discrimination imposed by similar technologies in the past. In his dissertation he examined the genealogy of the identification system in post-colonial Peru, arguing that the implementation of certain techniques and devices (fingerprints, mug shots, and identity cards) reinforced archaic social structures that enabled policy makers and technocrats to extract resources from citizens via the imposition of individual identities. His research also shows how citizens turned those technologies into generators of social and political rights, empowering citizens and allowing them to gain official recognition.

His new project focuses on the transnational circulation of biometrics and other technologies of identification during the long 
Cold War and their dissemination in contexts of political violence and struggle for civil rights.


  • Science and Technology Studies

Graduate Fields

  • Science & Technology Studies


History of identification; biometrics; surveillance; E-government and identity; science and technology in (post)colonial societies.